Public Utilities and the SCADA Tsunami
Updated: May 22, 2019
By Licia Wolf
With the integration of big data and advanced communication technologies, public utilities worldwide are undergoing a notable transformation within their operations. Smart Cities are already being built and are utilizing unprecedented quantities of data to control and deliver power. This huge wave of new methodology in operations is powered by Energy Management Systems (EMS) along with the increasingly digital technology of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).
EMS is a system of computer-aided tools used by electric utility grid operators to monitor, control, and optimize the performance of the generation and/or transmission system. In conjunction with SCADA – an architecture that communicates data among computers, data centers, and peripheral devices – the SmartCity system can manage multi-directional power flow, automate actions, and analyze energy usage trends.
In today’s energy market, power companies must meet changing regulations and face new competition. The increasing use of fiber optic lines allows for even higher rates of data transmission, and thus greater efficiency is required to maintain optimal power flow, address problems and resolve issues. The use of EMS/SCADA in utilities is becoming an essential part of operations.
SCADA systems offer a wide range of benefits, not limited to:
Increased Revenue – Improved technology increases levels in electric grid reliability
Improved Reliability – SCADA allows for better problem detection and resolution, and reduced outages
Higher Customer Satisfaction – Efficient data capture allows for compliance with changing power requirements. It also enables improved communication with customers.
Cost Reductions – SCADA provides the tools for real time strategic decision making (e.g. substation automation), and reduction in field technician services.
Cost and Security Issues
With any infrastructure and operational change there are challenges. The implementation of a new SCADA system can be cost-prohibitive, especially for smaller utilities, and the necessary investment in security (discussed in our blog) only adds to the overall investment. However, continual improvements in event processing, cloud integration and other procedures are improving ROI. The long-term benefits of a SCADA system will ultimately exceed the set-up costs and allow the use of power-system automation as well.
A crucial element in utilities operations is analysis of all that data. Once collected, data must be stored and analyzed with its meta data to allow relevant decision making and actions. Qualified operators must either monitor data or apply automation for immediate responses. Regardless of the method, the right analytics must be utilized to assess patterns and trends. This allows for processes such as real-time sub-station automation, generator synchronization, and trend analysis to predict future needs and infrastructure.
About the author - Licia Wolf is the Marketing and Communications Manager at HigherGround. She holds a Ph.D., and a professional background in electronics, internet marketing, and print/imaging technology. Click here for more information on Licia and the rest of the HigherGround team.
HigherGround, Inc. provides best-in-class, reliable data capture and interaction storage solutions that enable clients to easily retrieve critical information. Our interaction recording and incident reconstruction solutions transform data into actionable intelligence, allowing optimization of operations, enhanced performance, and cost reduction.